The Burbank Comedy Festival kicks off Sunday with Jeff Garlin, known for TV's "The Goldbergs" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," leading a mix of established comics and up-and-comers from across the nation. Hosted by Flappers Comedy Club and Restaurant, the fest runs through Aug. 23 and will feature a diverse range of talent including all-female and LGBT showcases as well as kids demonstrating their stand-up chops. There will also be classes, workshops, panels and parties connected to the festival.
In what's surely to be a festival highlight, Adam Carolla will podcast his show live from the festival and receive the "Comedian's Comedian Award." But Carolla isn't just a comic — he's a modern-day renaissance man. Besides his podcasting empire, he's starred in films and TV shows, published best-selling books and even sells his own wine called Mangria.
We got Carolla on the phone to talk about the festival and his accomplishments on a break from working on his latest independent film, "Road Hard."
Marquee: Tell me about this film you're working on. Is this the film about stand-up comedians?
Adam Carolla: It's a movie about guys who got off the road in their 30s, had successful careers and then had to get back on the road in their 40s and 50s, because all the work dried up, they got divorced. They're a bunch of miserable guys out on the road. Guys whose names you'd recognize, forced to go back to the clubs they never wanted to go back to.
Sounds real uplifting.
It's a comedy.
Congratulations. You're getting the "Comedian's Comedian" Award at the Burbank Comedy Festival. What does that mean to you?
I am? I have no idea what that means, but I'll take it. I'll definitely take it.
And you're doing your podcast from the festival. Is this just your way of throwing them a bone or are you excited about this?
I don't get that excited about that much these days. We shot ["Road Hard"] at Flapper's for three days straight. It was pretty nice for them to let us do that and I ended up doing a stand-up show after that. They're really nice people. They're literally up the street. I don't know how this thing all got figured out and arranged, but either way we're happy to help them because they helped us so much.
Do you live in Burbank?
No, but my podcast is done out of the Burbank-Glendale area and that's where I do all my work. It's literally up the street.
And of course KROQ was in Burbank when you got your big break, so I imagine Burbank sort of holds a special place in your heart.
Yeah, unfortunately, they write more chicken-ass jaywalking tickets than any other municipality, but other than that, I have a very warm spot in my heart for Burbank.
Some of it is timing, some of it is luck, some of it is we're in Los Angeles. Some of it is guys like Jimmy Kimmel and Kevin and Bean recognizing people like me and Carson Daily and Dr. Drew. With Dr. Drew it was more like a coincidence. They were in Pasadena and he was in Pasadena, but the other stuff was Jimmy. He was just like, "This guy Adam is funny. I want to bring him on." In a world that's ultra-competitive with comedians competing against each other, Jimmy was always inclusive. That's part of the reason why he's been so successful.
How soon did you start your podcast after your morning show on KLSX ended when the station changed formats to AMP?
Immediately. The following Monday. It ended on a Friday and started on a Monday.
Were you already thinking of that before it ended? Were you podcasting the morning show?
The morning show on KLSX was being podcasted, so we were already on the Internet and then it was just time to go full time onto the Internet.
You've built up a podcasting empire with not just your show, but several shows by you and other people in your camp. Did you ever dream it would be so successful?
No, I didn't. I didn't think it wouldn't work, either. I didn't have thoughts about it one way or another. I was just going to do it. That's the way I sort of approach life. I didn't have positive thoughts, but I didn't have negative thoughts. My thoughts were just, "Do it. Do it daily and do the best you that you can."
Can you explain the situation with the "patent troll" and what that means to the future of podcasting?
These guys are claiming they own the proprietary technology that we use. We think it's a false claim. We decided to take a stand against them in the name of the podcasting community and the podcast community has sort of rallied around us knowing that if we fall, they're next. Although I'm prevented from saying too much about it, because of legal reasons, it looks like it's winding up and it looks like it's going to have a positive outcome for us. We shall see. We stood our ground. We fought, and it looks like it was the right decision. It looks like it's going to work out, but it cost a ton of money to do that.
If offered, would you go back to terrestrial or satellite radio and do a morning show?
I don't have any beef with it. I don't have any fundamental issues, but I don't think they could offer enough money to make it worthwhile, but if somebody wanted to throw enough money my way, I'd consider anything. But I don't think that's in their cards or my cards.
Do you think terrestrial radio is on the way out or will it continue to be viable in the future?
It's been around 100 years, and I think it will be around for another 100 years. I think it'll have to go through some of the same growing pains that networks have gone through. You can't do a show called "Dukes of Hazzard" and get 40 million viewers every week anymore. There's a lot of competition out, and you're going to have to grow and change with that competition. I'm sure there will always be a place for it, but it's not going to dominate the way the big three networks used to dominate. The big three networks are still around. They just have to attempt.
How did you get into the Mangria business?
I literally was just drinking red wine and I ran out of it and I have a few drops left, so I dumped some vodka in and it tasted [terrible], so I mixed a little orange in and some other flavors and I just announced, comically, that I invented Mangria. It was just a joke and I used to laugh about it on the podcast and at some point some guy in Napa said, "Hey, do you want to make this stuff? Let's do it." One hundred thousand cases later, here we are.
You've got your podcasting empire, stand-up work, regular radio guest spots, TV shows, movies, Mangria. Are you ready to take on Howard Stern for the title of "King of All Media"?
No, I'll let him keep that mantle. He's a good friend. He earned it. He made it up.
What: Adam Carolla, Jeff Garlin and more at the Burbank Comedy Festival
Where: Flappers Comedy Club, 102 E. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank
When: Festival runs from Sunday through Aug. 23; "Adam Carolla Show Live Podcast" and Comedians Comedian Award, Tuesday at 8 p.m.
More info: (818) 845-9721, burbankcomedyfestival.com
CRAIG ROSEN is a Los Angeles journalist and a previous contributor to Marquee.